Tag Archives: playoff hockey

Round 1 hangover

Looch: Blocks shots like a boss.

Well, it’s the day after game 6, and Boston as a collective fanbase is exhausted in the best way possible.

Just as no one expects the Spanish Inquisition or Chara’s stickhandling, in no way, shape or form did most people expect the Bruins to rock the Sabres in 6 games in round 1. With a young corps of defensemen in the absence of Seidenberg and Stuart, it was up to Tuukka Rask and the forwards to find some hidden gear within themselves, some fire and will to win that maybe borderline wasn’t there during the regular season.

It’s said that playoff hockey is an entirely different beast. And, okay. Last year the Bruins went in as the #1 seed; expectations were high, of course, the Bruins had swept the season series against the Canadiens, so a playoff sweep, while amazing, wasn’t entirely unexpected. This year was the ultimate flipside; a Bruins/Sabres series, a season series that had been basically split between the two teams. Anything could happen, and doubts ran rampant. Who would be the better goaltender between the two whose stats had basically been identical throughout the season? Whose PK would prevail, two of the best in the league? Whose special teams would be most effective, as that would most likely be where a good deal of goals would be scored?

Playoff hockey is a different beast. Suddenly through six games the Bruins are six for 22 on the powerplay. That’s a jump from 16.3% effectiveness in the regular season to 27.3% in the playoffs, and although six games isn’t the biggest sample size, it’s still incredibly inpressive.

These players, these Bruins who lost ten straight games in the regular season, they’ve been infected with something. Hope. Determination. Defiance. Underdog grit. Whatever you want to call it. It’s playoffs. It’s the reason Johnny Boychuk’s hits are even more impressive than they were in the regular season. It’s the reason Vladimir Sobotka’s getting increased ice time, and the reason Dennis Wideman is starting to connect, the reason David Krejci has begun to score, and maybe most impressively, it’s the reason Blake freaking Wheeler is starting to use his 6 foot 5 inch, 210 lb frame to actually HIT people. The combination of hitting and his insane puck moving abilities may have only combined to get him a ridiculously failed open-net attempt last night, but it’s building up, it’s getting better.

Oh Looch, don't dump the goal-scorer on the ice, that's not polite.

Tuukka Rask is living up to the hype, improving during games instead of tiring out. Baby Adam McQuaid is keeping up with the play, making a name for himself, always in the scrums after the whistle. Michael Ryder’s picked it up, and what more can I say about Miro Satan that hasn’t already been said? It’s like the bear woke up in October, was sort of groggy for the whole season, and then someone annoyed him at the end of the season. He’s awake now, and he’s putting the fear of Boston into the NHL.

Marc Savard will be back for round 2. That means 3 or 4 days to work him back into the lineup. The big question now is who sits for Savvy? Thornton and Begin seem like automatic options, but are their intangibles actually necessary to the lineup? What about sitting Sturm, or Wheeler? (note: I am not advocating these things) Does it depend on whether we play the Penguins or the Flyers?

After tomorrow night, we’ll know who the Bruins will face. For now we’re in tiny limbo, and all that can be done right now is wait and hope….and cheer for the Coyotes!

Sami Lepisto, I'm not sure what you're doing here but please rock face tonight.

Do you know how hard it was for me to not just make this a giant party post of photos? No, self, that is what tumblr is for.

Sabres: slain. My love for Mike Grier has emerged unscathed. I hate Ryan Miller a little more now. But most importantly it was a hard-fought, well-won series. Round 2, here we come.

POST-ROUND READING:

Double-Edged Sabres: Good Morning Buffalo (a great recap from the other side)

The Good, the Bad, the Coyotes: We Made it 7 (just…read this whole blog. Funniest Coyotes blog out there.)

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A PSA for Washington DC

Hey. Psst. Caps fan. Yeah, you. I see you creepin’. Come here, I have an idea for you.

Once upon a time, Montreal booed the USA national anthem during a Habs-Bruins game. The series then traveled to Boston. Did we follow suit and jeer during the Canadian anthem? Did we yell “LET’S GO BRUINS!” or sing some ungodly version of that stupid OLE song?

No. We stood, cheered, and sang along as Rene Rancourt belted out the lyrics to the anthem of America’s Fancy Hat. And then the Bruins kicked some Canadien butt.

Look, guys, we all know your team can handle the butt-kicking. We all saw the score of the game tonight; we know that Ovie, Backstrom, Laich and Crew should have no problem annihilating the Habs in the last two games of the series.

But HOW COOL WOULD IT BE if Washington DC welcomed Les Habitants with a rousing cheer for Canada’s anthem?

And if you don’t know the words but you want to sing along, just follow the example of the LA Kings’ anthem singer and look it up on your Blackberry. I’m sure somewhere Jim Balsillie is fist-pumping with glee.

Oh, and – just because this post can’t be all about the Habs and the Caps, since there was in fact another game 3 tonight…

DENNIS WIDEMAN: Throwing his own snakes since April 2010.

Game 4 is Wednesday.

Rask is on fire (2.01 GAA).

Boychuk and Sobotka have developed a taste for Buffalo. Mmm, delicious hits. Specifically, this one.

Playoffs, the playoffs what. GO BRUINS.

From the Vault: Totally Relevant

Cam Neely annihilates Lindy Ruff. I find this wildly appropriate.

My thoughts on the playoffs so far, in bullet-point form:

  • So, Mr. Vanek, you and your fans and I need to have a little chat, and I’ll keep it short. Do not whine about what you think is a “cheap shot” from Johnny Boychuk when you clearly boarded Blake Wheeler in game 1 and didn’t seem to find any fault with that. I’m sorry you got hurt, but man up and get back on the ice.
  • Tuukka Rask educates Sabres fans. Oh, and also he steals a game on Sabres ice.
  • Game two had 99 combined hits, with Mike Grier accounting for 15 of those. Vladimir Sobotka had 6 in the second period alone. This is awesome.
  • Around the league – I’m pulling pretty hard for the Coyotes (they’re just so ENDEARING) and the Blackhawks; if the two teams meet in a later round I’m not sure who I’ll cheer for. In the east, I have just about broken my brain trying to imagine possible matchups. The fact that every single game 1 was an upset was fantastic. BRANDON YIP’S FIRST PLAYOFF GOAL.  If somehow the Preds advance and the Avs do too, and I get a matchup between Colin Wilson and Brandon Yip….I might possibly die. In the East, I hope the Pens crash and burn, and the Caps, too – really primarily JUST to see how NBC will react to having neither of their powerhouse teams in the semifinals. Should be interesting. I am in no way cheering for the Habs, though. No Habs no.
  • Not playoffs-related, but the Terriers named Joe Pereira and Chris Connolly co-captains for 2010-2011, and Dave Warsofsky (American Hero) will wear the A. Congrats, boys. I expect you to rescue the Beanpot from the end of the B-line next year, thanks.

As of right now, the Coyotes lead the Red Wings 2-1 in their series, thanks to a 4-2 game today on goals from these two guys. Go 'Yotes go!

About eighty billion more hours of playoff hockey left today, epic game 3 at home tomorrow. Let’s do this. Go Bruins.